26 January 2014

Reordination (4); Consummatio; Anglicans

This is the last of a letter in four sections which are to be understood closely in relation to each other.

I must be both personal and frank. I never doubted that on June 9 1968 I was truly ordained to the Catholic Priesthood by Harry Carpenter, Lord Bishop of Oxford, and that since then I was truly, morning by morning, confecting and offering the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Lord's Body and Blood. If I had so doubted, I would, of course, have stopped performing what would have been a sacrilegious simulation of so great a Sacrament. I am sure that the five bishops and hundred-or-so priests in the English Ordinariate would say the same.

But it is a frightening thing to back ones own judgement against the solemn and considered judgement of the Successor of S Peter. Moreover, I always understood why others did have their doubts (or worse than doubts) about Anglican Orders. In 1994 I wrote: "The great historical fact is that, for hundreds of years, the community of which we are inheritors defined itself in broad, popular, international and cultural terms by opposition to Rome, to priesthood, and to sacramental religion. We helped to torture and to kill those who perceived themselves - and were perceived by others - to be maintaining these things". And, of course, I was aware that the Bull Apostolicae curae of pope Leo XIII, as a judgement upon the situation as it still remained in the 1890s, was still in the 1960s part of the juridical Magisterium of the Church, and indeed is still as applicable today wherever the same situation still exists as existed in the 1890s. But as a consequence of 'Old Catholic'* participation in Anglican episcopal consecrations since the 1930s, the situation did not remain unchanged within the provinces of Canterbury and York. That is what the CDF decision in the case of Bishop Graham acknowledged. And it is obvious that the decision then made by the Holy See implicitly applies to all those who are in exactly the same position as Bishop Leonard. If the documentation which he supplied to Rome led the Consultors of the CDF to accept that there was a doubt about the invalidity of his priestly Orders, that is, a doubt about whether the decision of Apostolicae curae still did apply in the changed circumstances of his case, and if the Sovereign Pontiff with his own hand sanctioned this judgement, then, in the mind of the Church, that judgement applies also in principle to those who are in exactly the same position ... like you. And when Bl John Henry Newman entered priestly ministry in full communion with the Holy See, he was uncertain about the invalidity of his orders, but underwent the ceremony required of him, confident that the conditionality of the rite was 'implicit in the mind of the Church'.

And there is more to this than the merely technical or historical. When Fr Aidan Nichols preached with much elegance, grace, and clarity at Bishop Andrew Burnham's First Mass in Full Communion with the Holy See, he spoke of him as now "a Catholic priest in the full, unclouded, indisputable, sense of these words". For Bishop Andrew's status was, hitherto, 'clouded' by our historical inheritance. It was (even if mistakenly) 'disputed' and now needed to be rendered "indisputable". He was now to be a Catholic Priest in a 'full' sense, that is, in terms of an overt, public, social, identity (rather than merely of a technical - and questioned - validity) that would be recognised by any Catholic ... or, indeed, any anti-Catholic ... throughout the world.

S Theodore "consummavit" the Episcopal Consecration of S Chad; arguably a greater Saint than he was himself; and a Bishop whose bishophood would be doubted by no modern Western theologian - as it clearly was not doubted by even so resolute a Romaniser, and critic of all 'Celtic' waywardness, as S Bede the historian. Anglican priests joining the presbyterate of an Ordinariate have repeatedly been reassured, by Roman Catholics of any and every eminence, that they will not be denying the reality of anything that they were or did by virtue of their Anglican Orders. But it seems to me entirely appropriate that - even if our Anglican ordinations were valid - as we enter the presbyteral community of the Latin church, we should enthusiastically receive, as S Chad so willingly did, the signaculum, the sphragis of the Universal Church, and the healing consummatio, of that priesthood which, in 1968, I believed I received in sad separation from the See of Peter.

Personally, I was most moved at my 'second ordination' by the laying on of hands by the members of the visible presbyterium in which I was thereafter to function - a very real sphragis, in the terms of Pseudo-Hippolytus. And I was glad to receive some of those ceremonies which had been absent from my ordination by Bishop Harry - anointing, vesting, the Porrection of the Instruments. Equally, I was glad that those traditional ceremonies which had survived into the Prayer Book Ordinal were not repeated; that would have made it look as if there had been no effect in what had happened to me 'first time round' (the Veni Creator, such a moving part of the Prayer Book rite, was omitted - in the post-Conciliar pontifical it is optional - and Receive the Holy Ghost ... , which the Prayer Book inherited from medieval pontificals, could not have been used in 2012 anyway because Archbishop Bugnini had chopped it, together with much else of a specifically sacramental nature, out of his post-Conciliar pontifical).

But, I suggest, it is most important of all that in submitting to a rite of ordination in the Catholic Church, Anglican clergy should also in total, complete, humility be totally, completely, open to the possibility that, despite their own previous moral conviction that they were ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, they, yes, may have been plain wrong.  Even you and I, dear Father, are not infallible! Perhaps this question of the Validity of Anglican Orders was just too close to our eyes for us to be able to see it in a balanced way. So, the proper intention when joining the presbyterate of the Ordinariate must be that, if such be the case, one receives ab initio and without any ambiguity the Sacrament of Order ... joyfully and thankfully. 

My dear Father, yours very truly in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

John Hunwicke


*'Old Catholics' are Dutch schismatics the validity of whose episcopal succession is accepted by the praxis of the Catholic Church. As part of a formally documented ecclesial process, Dutch bishops have taken part in Anglican consecrations as 'Aequi-principal Consecrators', using the form and matter of their Pontifical, which was the same as that of the Catholic Church before Pius XII, and with an intention - again, formally documented in Latin protocols - of transmitting the Catholic Episcopate as the 'Old Catholic' succession had received it. In 1994, the CDF considered the documentary evidence which had been carefully preserved in the archives of Pusey House in Oxford. Its judgement, based (so Bishop Graham told me) upon the vota of its consultors, was that a "prudent doubt" existed about whether the judgement of Apostolicae curae applied to the presbyteral ordination of Dr Graham Leonard, formerly Bishop of London. In an instruction formally approved by Bl John Paul II, Cardinal Hume was instructed to ordain Bishop Graham sub conditione to the presbyterate. (He received no diaconal ordination - the Pontiff with his own hand deleted a provision for that from the CDF draft put before him -  and the CDF did not consider the question of his Episcopal Consecration, which is thus juridically still open. It was Bishop Graham's conviction that they deliberately declined to consider the validity of his Episcopal Consecration because of an unwillingness to find themselves possibly saddled with a married but validly consecrated Bishop. Such a situation is in fact not entirely without parallel in the recent history of the Church ... but that is what Bishop Leonard said to me.)


D. Harold said...

For me there is no mystery about the re-ordaintion of Bishop Graham sub conditione to the presbyterate. True , he did not receive the diaconal ordination. Why ! I believe that he was exempt from this because the greater Order contains the lesser, so in receiving the sub conditione ordaintion to the priesthood he also received the diaconal at the same time ! This, I belive was done out of respect for his age and former position that he held within the Church of England, being the third most important anglican Bishop not to mention being a PC as well. As regards his 'episcopate not being considered because he was married'. Well I doubt it for the Utrecht bishops and bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church of which the Roman Catholic Church has a 'parcial communion' are married too. The so called 'old catholic touch' does not convey validity. The contextual setting was important and this contextual setting was clearing anglican. Sacramnets are not 'magicial charms' seen merely in terms of 'matter and form'!

D. Harold said...

In my last contribution a few minutes ago but forgive me for I forgot to say that Bishop Graham did in accordance with Canon Law receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, disreetly.

Can. 1033 A person is promoted licitly to orders only if he has received the sacrament of confirmation.

Don Camillo SSC said...

Certainly the judgement that Graham Leonard's priestly orders were, very possibly, valid implies that Anglican Bishops are (equally possibly) capable of imparting valid episcopal Orders. I shall continue to refer to (and pray for) Bishop Keith, Bishop Andrew, Bishop John et. al.

Jacobi said...


Your last four letters have been slightly above me. I’m only a simple retired scientist after all.

But they reminded me of a chat I had with a young Jesuit priest some ten years ago when I was upbraiding the Church for its hard attitude to the Anglican orders. Surely I argued, there was unbroken continuity (laying of hands) from valid pre-Reformation Catholic bishops to the present. He answered with one word - intent!

I thought about that for all of one and a half seconds, and changed the subject.

D. Harold said...

Dear Fr Hunmwicke. Firstly, I mmust say that I do indeed like your blog very much. Congratulations on the time you spesnt on it. I hope we can learn together !

You said "It was Bishop Graham's conviction that they deliberately declined to consider the validity of his Episcopal Consecration because of an unwillingness to find themselves possibly saddled with a married but validly consecrated Bishop. Such a situation is in fact not entirely without parallel in the recent history of the Church ... but that is what Bishop Leonard said to me.)" But this would not have been relevant for he was a relatively old man and surely he could have gained the approval of his wife to live as 'brother and sister' rather than as 'husband and wife'. This would have resolved the obstacle ! Indeed in the not so distant past a Brazilian Episcopal priest was ordained to the episcopate by a chismatic RC Bishop, and was eventually received into the RC Church, and recognised as a RC Bishop (he was married and had, I think 13 grown up children). his name was Bishop Salaomão Ferraz and took part at the Second Vatican Council. Admittedly, he received all three major Orders from the schismatic RC Brazilian Bishop and was elderly at the time, just like Bishop Graham was. But the problem was that Bishop Graham was ordained deacon and priest in the Anglican Church using the Anglican Ritual and while his episcopal ordaintion may, just may have been valid using the 'magic old catholic touch' his previous ordination of diaconate and priesthood in the Angliacn Church and contexto according to the RC Church were invalid ! Although, it is held as probable theological opinion that the Greater Order (the Episcopate) contains the less, the diaconate and priesthood, usually in practice it is not just accepted that such a 'per saltum' ordination would be valid or accepted as valid in practical terms. His episcopal ordination even though said the 'magic' words 'Receive, the Holy Spirit'- this is NOT enough, by itself with the contexto of the ordination which was clearly Anglican to determine the nature of the episcopate - so at least in RC Terms it was seen as invalid. If it were valid no doubt Bishop Graham could have been accepted as a retired Emeritus RC Bishop, with disspesations granted for the fact of his marriage but this could have be overcome if his wife and him had agreed to live 'as brother and sister'!

Unknown said...

With regard to those truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively, but are not able to be declared as divinely revealed, the following examples can be given: the legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints (dogmatic facts), the declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations ...

The rule is Anglican orders are invalid. In Graham's individual case the Pope gave him a conditional ordination, you can't say that it applies universally to "people like you". There are other considerations, as the Orthodox have pointed to. In all charity you should bit your tongue on the matter of the saints, too-- also ironically also noted in the above text.

We get it, and we are thankful for your full communion, but you need to stop with putting on an act of meekly contradicting the magisterium so publicly. Anglo-Catholic habits die hard, no doubt.

Anglican orders are null and void unless otherwise noted. Reaffirmed in 1998 by...Saint John Paul II.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Hmmm. I wonder how much angry denunciations really help. I notice that you don't condescend to answer the question which, in good faith, I asked in my piece about Canonisation: what is the Magisterial status of a dicasterial Commentary, such as the one that linked together Canonisation and Apostolicae curae? Perhaps you would like to do so now, giving - please - precise references to authorities and not just a lot more unsupported rhetoric.

I will not join you in giving the title Saint to someone who has not had it conferred by authority. Your regard for the Magisterium seems selective.

Unknown said...

You're right, I apologize. It was rude...

But it's tautology to ask what the magisterial status of a document that comes from the heart of the magisterium...CDF, I mean it was written by Ratzinger and released with Professio Fidei...I don't know what else you want in way of primary sources. It's also a *doctrinal* commentary not a dicasterial commentary, which to be honest I've never heard of, but that implies it was written for some parochial audience of priests.

Also, as per conferred by authority, Pope Francis has decreed the canonization will happen in April, so whatever that's worth. Yes, lighting can strike and the spirit can move, I capitulate. But I also digress:

Is the real question what is the Magisterial status of the Magisterium?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

But Alan: the whole point of Ad tuendam Fidem was itself to distinguish between the different levels of magisterial statement and the different degrees of assent required by each. Basically, it indicated three levels. However ... I suppose there's a paradox here! ... it does say what level dicasterial commentaries belong to!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Read: doesn't say!